The FoodChain team sample a selection of new and innovative foods and drink

Marvellous matcha
Matcha NOW has added two brand new and delicious flavours to its repertoire; Peppermint and Ginger & Turmeric. The new flavours follow Matcha NOW’s unique formula that provide you with 2.5g of organic, ceremonial grade matcha preserved in the cap, allowing the purity and potency of the matcha to be kept fresh until you are ready to drink. When you want to drink it, simply twist the green cap, release the Matcha into the water, shake, remove the white cap and sip.

With 137 times the antioxidants of regular green tea, Matcha is the king of all green teas. Unlike regular tea, Matcha has never been steeped in water so it retains all of its nutrients. It also includes L-Theanine, which cleverly binds to the caffeine promoting a slower release of energy. Matcha is also packed full of carotenoids, vitamins and chlorophyll.
“The Peppermint flavour when chilled from the fridge was very refreshing, and the hint of mint and vanilla softened the flavour of the matcha, making it slightly sweeter. This effect was also felt more strongly in the Ginger & Turmeric which had a warmth as well. Of course, these two spices are known to have many health-giving properties, so I really felt like I was drinking something nutritious!” commented our tester.

Gnawty but gnice
Artisan chocolate maker Gnaw has released luxuriously smooth liqueur hot choc shots in three sumptuous varieties: Irish Cream, Coffee Liqueur and Amaretto. Every single one of its range is carefully handcrafted in the ‘Gnawfolk’ kitchens with locally sourced ingredients, natural flavours, and no added nasties! All of its products are gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians.
“Gnaw’s info about the hot choc liqueur shots mentions a ‘winter evening – a snuggly blanket, an open fire, candles…’ – I was sold at that stage!” said our tester. “What a treat it was when I tried it, and it’s so simple – solid chocolate on a stick that you stir into hot milk. It’s so smooth and indulgent, and the little squeeze of Amaretto at the end adds a boozy twist. The slow melting of the chocolate is tantalizing and who can resist a few licks of the oozy warm chocolate? These are going on my list for Christmas as my friends will love them.”

Drinking health
A low-calorie vitamin drink made from a unique, simple blend of Vitamins, Water, Tea and Juice, VITHIT was founded in 2008 by Gary Lavin, an ex-professional rugby player who saw an opportunity to create a truly healthy, functional and low-calorie drink option. Already seeing a lot of success, VITHIT is predicting 38 per cent growth this year, and is set to become a global leader selling in 50 international markets by 2022.

“We’re looking to change the face of the market with a low sugar alternative to health sapping soft drinks,” explained Gary. “Healthy, energising, refreshing, and low in sugar, VITHIT is the perfect tonic. Our experience, knowledge and success within this sector has us on track to secure our global growth ambitions of bringing health to the masses, without the sugar.”
“I’ve loved having a selection of VITHIT in the fridge, and have reached for one without hesitation every day,” said our tester. “All the flavours (mango & passionfruit, berry, dragonfruit+yuzu, mandarin, citrus, and Apple+Elderflower) are nice and fruity; I think my favourite was Apple+Elderflower. The health credentials of 100% RDA of eight vitamins, L-carnitine plus Mate tea promise speeded up metabolism – I can’t promise I’ve noticed, but I am sure all the extra vitamins I’ve consumed have done me the world of good!”

Give it some sparkle
UK drinks accessory company, Popaball, which ‘mixed up’ the drinks industry with its drink shimmers and bursting bubbles, is now adding some glamour to preserves. Lovingly handmade in the North East of England, using 100% natural fruits, Popaball’s new range of jams and marmalades are made extra glam with the addition of glitter and gold leaf pieces.

Available in three tempting boozy flavours: Raspberry Glitter Jam with Prosecco Flavour, Grapefruit Glitter Marmalade with Rum Flavour and Rhubarb and Ginger Glitter Jam with Gin Flavour, the jams can be used traditionally on top of scones, cakes, toast or crumpets, or made into dazzling cocktails.
“The glitter in the jam was nice and subtle, adding a glimmer to my scone topping – very eye-catching and definitely helping our Macmillan Coffee Morning takings!” said one tester. “The gold flecks were pretty, but the jams can stand alone – very high quality fruit flavour, lovely consistency and I was pleased they were alcohol-free, with prosecco, gin and rum flavourings, as it meant my children could also enjoy them – they were delighted to try jam with bits of gold in!”

Get the skinny
Skinny Brands, the makers of ‘skinny’ alternatives, have created a new full flavour 4% ABV Skinny Lager.

With only 89 calories and a low carbohydrate content of 2.97g per 330 ml bottle, Skinny Lager is gluten free and vegan friendly, and is a great alternative for drinkers looking to make smarter choices without compromise.

As Allan Moffat, Marketing Manager at Skinny Brands, explained, the full-flavoured Skinny Lager appeals to a wide variety of consumers looking to drink differently. “We have a genuine passion and desire to meet consumer demand when it comes to low-calorie alcohol, without compromising on taste,” he said.

“We have big plans for the brand and set an ambitious target to sample over one million bottles with consumers in 2018 at various events – and we’re confident that everyone who tries Skinny Lager will love it!”

Produced under licence at Cameron’s Brewery in Hartlepool by North West-based drinks company, Skinny Brands Ltd, Skinny Lager is made with four simple ingredients: water, malted barley, hops and carbon dioxide. A special brewing process allows the residual sugars to be extracted to create the low-calorie aspect, but leaves behind a crisp, clean, refreshingly malty taste.

Skinny Lager can be picked up online, at Ocado and in selected Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op stores as well as in some of the UK’s best pubs, bars and restaurants.
“At last a lager that promises low calories but delivers on taste,” said our tester. “I found when poured it created a nice foamy head and was a good pale straw colour. I found it easy to drink, especially with a good curry, or at a BBQ, but I also liked having a bottle in the fridge when I just fancied a beer – the low sugar content was impressive when compared to other lagers, so I didn’t have to make other sacrifices for the calories. I’ll be looking out for more Skinny products!”

Delicious and rewarding
A new sweet vermouth named Discarded has been launched by William Grant & Sons, which is infused with cascara, the discarded fruit of the coffee berry. Until recently, cascara was regarded as a waste product in coffee production and is often discarded or used as fertilizer on coffee plantations.

To make Discarded, cascara is steeped into alcohol to produce the extract, once the infusion is ready, it is blended into the base of a fortified wine and other botanicals to achieve the deep flavour combinations. On the nose, Discarded is deep, rich and aromatic with an easy natural warmth. The taste is full and sweet and the indulgent fruity notes merge with the characteristic bitter notes of vermouth which dominate the clean, lingering finish.
“When you say sweet vermouth, my first thought was Cinzano Rosso – which shows my age!” said our tester. “But Discarded is a world away from those 80s days…it is far more sophisticated, with layers of flavour ranging from bitter to sweet. I tried it simply mixed with tonic, but it deserves more effort and so I’ve been researching all the different cocktail combinations on Discarded’s Facebook page, and now have a list of options to try out, as I really like the ethos of this product, and I am already looking forward to all the delicious drinks I can create!”